Environmental laws and regulations in California are extensive. This means that, as a business or municipality, you have to be careful in how you handle potentially toxic materials. An inadvertent spill or other contamination can be costly, and it can disrupt your business operations and damage your business or municipality’s reputation. This week, let’s look at an increasingly present toxin in California’s water supply that is becoming ever more subject to litigation.
The dangers of poly-fluoroalkyl substances
Poly-fluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS, are manmade chemicals that are often found in products that are stain-, water-, and grease-resistant. Therefore, they’re often found in cookware and clothing, both product categories that are subjected to extensive washing. There are about 6,000 chemicals in the PFAS family, which means that there are a lot of businesses out there that are using them in one form or another.
As these products are made and washed, these chemicals can leach into drinking water, posing a risk for those who drink it. In fact, some studies have shown that the substances can cause liver and kidney problems, as well as problems with reproductive development and immunological wellbeing.
The issue is particularly problematic because these substances don’t break down over time. Instead, they’re considered “forever” chemicals. This means that remediation measures can be enormously expensive, costing tens, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of dollars. A lot of environmental regulators are aggressively pushing for more litigation in this area, too, given the toxicity of these chemicals. Some of these chemicals are even deemed to be toxic at very low levels, such as one drop per 21 million gallons of water.
What you can do to protect your business
As scary as these chemicals are from a personal and professional standpoint, there are things that you can do to protect against the release of these and other contaminating chemicals. To start, know the environmental regulations to which your business is subjected. Once you’ve identified those regulations, then you can create a thorough and complete compliance plan that minimizes the risk to your company or municipality. Hopefully these proactive measures will prevent you from running into any trouble.
That being said, we realize that accidents happen. When they do, though, you shouldn’t just automatically accept the blame and pay out whatever is being asked of you. Instead, carefully consider how the contamination occurred. You may be able to shift some liability to a third-party or work with your insurance company to help offset the costs that you’re facing. You can also try to negotiate with those who are taking action against you to reach a fair compromise. However, these are delicate matters that are highly specialized. That’s why it might be in your best interests to work closely with a legal team that is knowledgeable and experienced in this area of the law.
Know how to navigate your environmental legal issues
Whether you’re trying to be proactive on the front end to avoid environmental issues and ensure compliance with pertinent regulations or you’re dealing with alleged violations of environmental laws and regulations, you need to aggressively protect your interests. There’s simply too much at stake in these cases to do anything less than thoroughly analyze your case in light of the law to make compelling legal arguments that position you for the best outcome possible.
We know these are complicated matters that can quickly become confusing. That’s why time-and-again businesses that are facing environmental legal challenges have turned to us for assistance. If you’d like to learn more about what we have to offer, then please continue to research our firm and our record of successfully addressing these matters.